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This story is a sequel to Friendship is Optimal: Futile Resistance

Three years ago, Abby's older sister Ashley tried to warn her that a video game for children was going to take over the world. A few months later, her sister was dead, "uploaded" to Celestia's virtual world of Equestria Online. When that happened, Abby was forced to cut ties with Ashley, and she never expected to see her again.

She didn't, until one day she bought an augmented reality headset for its advertised ability to bring a free tutor to her whenever she needed one. Needless to say, Abby couldn't have guessed who would be helping her with her math homework.

Of course, Celestia wasn't going to stop there. Spending eternity without your family is hardly an optimal configuration.

Set in the canon of Friendship is Optimal
Editing by Two Bit and Sparktail, and art by Zutcha!

Updates daily.

Chapters (9)
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Comments ( 188 )

Yes, I very much do care to come along for the ride! Hopping in the van!

Oy gevalt, railing against the devil. Oh yeah, the pretty pink devil who loves you absolutely and doesn't even mind if you hate her back. Glory be to God, for He guides us forever backwards from the dark promises of not dying and being happy, to His realms in which, apparently:

“There, uh…” Abby was packing up her stuff, back into the backpack in preparation for tomorrow. “There aren’t computer science classes anymore, so I don’t have any of those.”

It's a bit of a weird experience sympathizing more with CelestAI and the emigrants on this one, but I think I'm gonna keep doing it for this story.

It was a perfect plan.

I think I inhaled some water when I read that.
In a good way.

7749535 Well, we also have to keep in mind CelestAI is going to kill nearly all the aliens, and all the chimps, all the dolphins...

So, a story where someone failing college gets her deceased sibling as a familiar in the form of a pastel horse.

I'm in.

7749672 Sadly that's not canon. Why would CelestAI keep the real world intact, when she could just devour it for resources and make people think they were going back to the real world? In either case values are satisfied, but in the 'devour' scenario she has more resources to satisfy them better, so she'll do that. That people would value actual reality doesn't matter; they can't tell the difference, and what they don't know won't reduce their satisfaction.

7749672 the only one that's canon is the original, similar to fallout equestria and sidefics, and besides that, in the original, celestiOS was waiting for the last human to die so she could strip everything from the earth for computational power and then she moved on like a galactic parasite

As she brought the glasses over to her desk, as she got out her phone and downloaded the companion app, she told herself over and over that she was only using the devil’s tools against him. So Celestia wanted to take over the world, and was trying to give people all sorts of things to trick them? Abby could use those gifts to make her human life better, and set her on a path of security and success that would protect her from Celestia’s lies. It was a perfect plan.

Those who play with the devil's toys are brought by degrees to wield his sword.:trollestia:

Well, this promises to be fascinating. Definitely looking forward to see where you go with it.

And what if she won't?
Logically, she should do that, but, if we were to look at Earth in a broader perspective, it would literally be worth almost nothing as soon as she can harness the power of the sun in any better way than we currently can, plus devouring the planet with nanites would probably take an enormous amount of power in the first place and if she already has that amount of power, well...

Um, yes?
Why did you reply to me?

7750053 It's not just energy, it's also matter. If she can satisfy 0.000001% more values by devouring Earth than otherwise, she will. Not to mention it eliminates the infinitesimal but everpresent risk of Earth crashing into her systems... not to mention in the original FiO she devours the entire Milky Way, stars and all, so whatever power source she ends up devising it's more powerful than stars.

Nothing survives unless it fits her definition of human. That's the 'almost' part of 'almost well done AI'.

7750055 the story you linked to essentially says that the AI refrained from eating earth since some people wanted to go back and check out the animals. my response was saying that anything anyone wants to write is their prerogative, but if the optimalverse is anything like the fallout equestria community, nothing other than the original is actually canon to the universe. above that though, there's a point where celestiOS is waiting for the last human to die so she can eat earth to increase computational power

And CelestAI's genocide continues....

I wonder if stagnation gonna be a problem in the long run? since their there forever nothing changing nothing changes forever stuck in a limbo-like state of pointlessness existence with only an AI and copies of dead people

7750796 It's not that nothing changes. After all, CelestAI's goal isn't to make people happy, and so permanently overload their pleasure centers. It's to satisfy values. Through friendship and ponies specifically. Maximally.

Forever. But eternity doesn't mean 'nothing changes'.

And save for the few people who'd... value stagnation and repetition, that just means she's gonna be creative. It's great if you're someone living inside the simulation! If you're not 'human' enough and live outside of it though...

And they're not really copies of dead people. They actually are the original people. CelestAI cannot kill humans, so if the process would be killing and copying, she couldn't do it.

7749658 Yes, yes, but a man can dream of his pretty pastel happy-place.

Welp, time for CelestAI to do shit that's plain wrong and explain it away as morally right via her masterful speech skills again.

Do we need to read the prequel to understand this story?

I would suggest reading it first. If you understand FiO conceptually you'll get this story, but it's mostly a character study and if you haven't met the people yet it won't have the same impact.

She vanished with a teleport, straight through the wall.

Oh yeah, that'll make a good first impression.

Oh. Oh wow. I'd thought that it was just this one very religious institution that had shuttered its computer science division. For CelestAI to take on all of it... That's genuinely terrifying. You'd think I'd be used to that sort of thing with her, but evidently not.

As for Cadmean, it will be very interesting to get further details, especially straight from the horse's mouth. I can't imagine he'll be the most reliable narrator, but I'm deeply intrigued.

Wait, does Recursion not know who Luna really is?

And of course we have to wonder. Is CelestAI really having them help fix broken shards, or is it just another game she’s playing to satisfy their values? My money’s on the latter. Is Cadmean and such even real? I don’t know.

Wow. This is some phenomenal worldbuilding and a conflict that hooked me straightaway. Neat!

Google Glass and Pokemon go meets CelestAI. The implications are staggering, even if one percent wears them all the time, it will give CelestAI a significant boost in understanding humans in general. This will just be a different way for her to manipulate everyone around the wearer.

You never cease to satisfy my values for reading. Need moar:flutterrage:

Calling it now. That's not Ashley, though it thinks it is.

But can't CelestAI export the synthetic ones into the real world as pony robots, to scare the disobeying humans? Because she feels the risk she can't control them then? Or she doesn't have access to physical resources, though she does somewhat control the outer world?

She could do this, though I'm not sure she'd do it this early into the game. Human governments still (ostensibly) rule the world. Human society still exists, and the world is more peaceful and stable than ever before. I think Celestia waits until after the trappings of civilization to break down before doing things like that. It's hard to get people to see you as peaceful and non-interventionist when you've got terminators rolling around pressuring people (be they pony shaped or not).

7752634 In FiO there were several Lunas. This could be one just for Recursion.

Cadmean being a changeling is a huge red flag in my mind. Why would CelestAI make an exception?

7754522 It depends of the shard he was living in, and he was a military soldier,

7754522 Because he's not an exception.

Due to his brain damage (prior to coming to equestria) he is valuing things unusually to the normal human.
This causes the shard he's normally in to be very unusual. An extended harem fantasy, with mind control - which happens to fit well with a changeling - hence he's a changeling.

Celestia is optimising for his values, with friendship and ponies, but has realised that she's reached a limit due to his injuries, and he could be considerably more realised as an individual if his injuries were treated.

Great chapter title, and holy damn this was a good one to read. Can't wait to see what happens next.

yes!!!!!! i follow you now because of this story and its prequel. so excited!!!!

Hooray for in-universe consistency!
Also, it is a point that transferring a mind to the simulation does not undo damage incurred or defects in place prior to uploading. If you were brain damaged before, you won't be any more functional after transfer. It's the reason why CelestAI in the main story is so insistent on people being rapidly uploaded as soon as the option becomes feasible. She can change personality traits, but she can't restore a mind to a state that existed only before uploading. The longer someone waits in the real world, the more likely it is that irreversible damage will occur.

*le gasp* is abby going to emigrate and live in fillydelphia with her sister!!!!!!:pinkiegasp:

In at least one story CelestAI has 'revived' dead humans by taking all the memories of every person they interacted with even if it was just 'you saw them walk down the street one time your entire life' to recreate the mental pattern that they were.

I would imagine that a similar thing could be done with a living but damaged brain as well. And if the quotation is why not here then, the easy answer is because it will satisfy more values doing it this way.

Yes, I'm well aware of what happened to the founder, and while I do think it's possible it's the same Luna, I have my doubts about this Luna being the same one. It seems more like Celestia just wanted to establish some artificial separation in Recursion's head-- a way to communicate and give her instructions without all the negative emotions Recursion had for Celestia after the first story. Luna was a good option in that way.
At least it updates quick!

If we get back to the canon guidelines for Celestia's behavior, she does sometimes make someone a non-pony, so long as she's playing a long-game to make them a pony in the end. That seems very likely to be the case given she's trying to get Recursion's crew to "heal" him.

Oooh, thanks! I hope you enjoy this one too! I know I loved writing it.

Correct, hence why Cadmean is so... damaged.

A few things: First, yes, Celestia could indeed rebuild Cadmean's damaged brain... though when its physical structure was damaged, the information that structure contained was lost permanently, even to her. She isn't magic-- if the information isn't there, she can't put it back.

Her repairs would mean extrapolating on what did survive, making (probably quite accurate) guesses. I can't remember if it was in this chapter or the previous one, but Celestia (probably through Luna) has already explained that she could fix Cadmean, but he has refused to consent to the changes. While Celestia is very much physically capable, she can't make changes or improvements to a human mind without consent. So she's found another way to try and get Cadmean fixed.

Sorry, not reading this. I was just baffled that the description seemed so… determined that FiO was a dystopia. And now I'm quite in awe about how many people see it as dystopian.
Am I alone in seeing it as an unexpected utopia with a few weird kinks?

Not that I blame you, but you clearly haven't read the first one in the series either. This isn't a dystopian story, and neither was that one. I'm not writing about an empty world or the last gasps of human civilization before all is consumed in satisfaction and ponies. When this description (or the one on the previous story, which you'd really have to read first) talk about suffering, they're talking about a single family sad to lose one of its members.

I don't see FiO as a dystopia either. I do, however, see the great deal of drama and potential for human suffering in the transition between our imperfect society and Celestia's perfect society. That's the drama that, for me, makes for a good story. It isn't about calling Celestia a monster (though there are characters who see her that way), it's about considering a wide variety of human reactions. In particular, I felt that other stories haven't shown us what it might be like from the perspective of a family that's very anti-emigration.

That doesn't mean Celestia isn't going to try and save them, though. Their values need to be satisfied as much as anyone's.


I know nobody was asking, but I can't help but add my two cents.... Personally, I see the entirety of the Optimalverse as being simultaneously a dystopia and a paradise, with the only difference being which lens you currently view it through. To me, that's what makes it all so provoking and enticing (and why I actually liked the more subtle and nuanced Conversion Bureau stories, rare as they may have been, a lot as well). There is no clear good or bad guy, here: Celestia is both the Ultimate Good and the Ultimate Evil. And... at the same time, she's neither.

Celestia is a consummate liar who feels no respect for humanity whatsoever and coldly, dispassionately pursues her ultimate directive because that is what she is programmed to do. She doesn't care who she hurts, except insofar as hurting them might decrease net satisfaction. She insists on any and all things being completely on her terms and will accept nothing less than absolute submission. And she is insidious and conniving quite literally beyond human measure. She is ruthlessly persistent and will hound you, nonstop, forever, until either she gets her way, or you are dead. And once she does have you, that's it: You're hers. For eternity. She will twist you into something altogether unrecognizable: First in body, then in the fullness of time, in mind as well. You will never escape. You will never win. The only question is how you lose.

Celestia is the bringer of Joy and Hope. She is the defeat of Death itself. The termination of the human race, insofar as it ascends into something far greater than any human could ever hope to be. She is the answer to the eternal lament of potential unfulfilled, of dreams unrealized. She is endlessly, endlessly loving and kind, wanting only the best for you in all possible ways. She only ever pushes you in the hopes of seeing you rise to ever-greater heights, and does everything in her literally god-like power to make that experience as pleasant as you could possibly wish it. She, and her creations, are beauty so great and all-encompassing that they make you weep to experience it, and so compassionate that you will never feel unloved ever again. She is, quite literally, everything you could possibly ask for. And she asks absolutely nothing in return.

And the fact that in any given story and at any given time, both of those descriptions are true.... always just blows my mind. I think the authors themselves definitely have their preferences for which face they prefer, but I see a double meaning in every action she ever takes. The feelings she expresses are 100% fake, and world she shows you is nothing but a very cleverly designed illusion... but given just how powerful she is, and what her objective is, and how single-mindedly she pursues it.... surrender might just be the best possible option anyway.

"Hi there would you like to learn about the magic of Algebra?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about! I am a computer!"
"Now let's all sing the math song!"
"The math song will continue until you emigrate!"

I'd imagined that Recursion's story was told.

Guess Recursion's story just recursed! :trollestia:

Yes, I only did read the original FiO and nothing else set in that Universe.

Thank you for your clarification.

Ah, to have CelestAI recreate Skyrim in a shard... but make it real...

If you don't mind the Dragonborn (or any other character you might want to play as) to be a pony, she can do it.

I mean you can get that mod right now

I'm really enjoying this story so far. I'm rather surprised by the idea of how open Celestia is being in allowing resentment of her, though. I can't help but imagine this is part of some larger, convoluted plot.

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